Crystal Cox Whistleblower
Obsidian Finance Group, LLC v. Cox is a 2011 case from the United States District Court for the District of Oregon concerning online defamation. Plaintiffs Obsidian Finance Group and its co-founder Kevin Padrick sued Crystal Cox for maintaining several blogs that accused Obsidian and Padrick of corrupt and fraudulent conduct.
The court dismissed most of Cox’s blog posts as opinion, but found one single post to be more factual in its assertions and therefore defamatory. For that post, the court awarded the plaintiffs $2.5 million in damages. This case is notable for the court’s ruling that Cox, as an internet blogger, was not a journalist and was thus not protected by Oregon’s media shield laws. (Wikipedia)
In her trial memorandum, defendant argues that her statements in the subject blog post are absolutely privileged because they are based on statements made in a judicial proceeding. Deft’s Trial Mem. at pp. 6-7. While it is true that statements made in a judicial proceeding are absolutely privileged, Wallulis v. Dymowski, 323 Or. 337, 348, 918 P.2d 775, 761 (1996), a person who republishes a defamatory statement may be liable even though the original publication was privileged. See Cushman v. Edgar, 44 Or. App. 297, 302-03, 605 P.2d 1210, 1212-13 (1980) (union official’s letter to governor was absolutely privileged, but its republication in union periodical was not). Here, defendant’s statements were not made in a judicial proceeding. Moreover, the statements in the subject blog post do not appear to be republications of a statements previously published in a judicial proceeding. That is, while defendant provides links to other documents and discusses them in the post, the statements regarding Padrick’s failure to pay taxes on taxable gain obtained by the bankruptcy estate, are not simply republications of statements that initially appeared in a judicial proceeding. Regardless, the statements posted on defendant’s blog are not privileged.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF OREGON
Based on the evidence presented at the time of trial, I conclude that plaintiffs are not
public figures, defendant is not “media,” and the statements at issue were not made on an issue of public concern. Thus, there are no First Amendment implications. Defendant’s other defenses of absolute privilege, Oregon’s Shield Law, Oregon’s Anti-SLAPP statute, and Oregon’s retraction statutes, are not applicable.
“The Obsidian Finance Group V. Crystal L. Cox Appeal is still moving along, we are in the Ninth and have had 2 rounds of document filings. The Plaintiff has deemed my “Right to Appeal” as an Asset and is executing a Sheriff’s Sale to Take this Asset from me in order to pay my $2.5 Million Dollar Judgement.”
- Crystal Cox is NOT A Journalist Is This Good News? (towardchange.wordpress.com)